Baldy Traverse -- July 12, 2006

Elevation Gain: 800 meters (2624 feet)

Climbed by: me, KevinL.

This was a neat day. Kevin and I both took the day off work to climb a mountain. We chose Baldy because the route looked straight-forward, it was close to Calgary, and it wasn't too tall.

We set off at 8:15am from the parking lot, and the trail soon angled upward and in the direction of the true summit (the North summit).

Before long, we got to the "crux" which is a two meter downclimb with some exposure. This little beastie caused no trouble for either of us, even though neither of us is a wild and crazy guy.

We carried on up the trail, and soon came to the gendarme, which is a smallish block of rock that is basically in the way. We went around the back (right hand side), not noticing the carefully placed cairn until we were upon it. The trail was pretty obvious; it was clear this trail gets a lot of traffic.

Before too long, it was time to ascend to the summit. I'm not sure if there is a 'good' trail to get there -- I suspect there is. Kevin and I somehow lost the trail, and angled up the scree and rock, eventually intersecting the path near the top. That was more fun than following a boring old trail anyway, we convinced ourselves.

One hour, 55 minutes into our journey, we reached the summit. Not bad for a couple of fat guys.

Next, we needed to find a good place to climb down onto the ridge that connects the North and South summits. Again, I'm sure we didn't take the "right" route, but we did manage to get safely down to the ridge without much difficulty.

We traversed the ridge, and 45 minutes after leaving the North summit, we arrived at the South summit where we had a snack, and tried to discern a viable route up the West summit, yet to come.

We headed down the screen to the second ridge, and on toward the West summit. We got closer and closer, and still didn't see what I would consider a good route up this one. We got right to the foot of the West summit block, and decided we might as well just plow up it. It was a little dicey in places, but hand- and foot-holds abounded, and we made it to the top in relatively short order (50 minutes from the South summit to the West summit). We had lunch, and began our descent roughly the way we came up.

Kevin was not certain that he would be able to reach the ridge below without plummeting to his hopefully-quick death. I was certain it couldn't be that bad. With so many hand- and foot-holds, I was sure his pack would catch on something before he tumbled to his doom! Kevin did a fine job climbing down the summit block and onto the ridge, and he's certain to proclaim that it was a piece of cake if anyone were to ask him about it now. I'll admit it was a little freaky, but all the holds held, and all ended well.

Heading back toward the South summit, we donned our gaiters, tested Kevin's new bear-banger (it worked fine!), and jumped off the ridge onto the very obvious descent route into the drainage below. The scree was "okay", but I don't think either of us really needed our gaiters. Before long we found ourselves on a very pleasant, well-established trail that terminated at exactly the spot where the ascent trail started to go steeply up, and then we were back at Kevin's car.

The whole loop, including the "crux", skirting the gendarme, three summits, 2.5 ridges, two interesting downclimbs, a scree run into the drainage, and a lovely hike out to the car took very close to 5 hours 45 minutes. We were back in Calgary by 3pm!

The valley from about 100-150 meters up.
The drainage via which we hoped to return. It's between the South and West summits, and is quite obvious. It leads down to a very nice trail that comes out right where the ascent trail begins to go up.
The same valley from quite a bit higher -- maybe 400-500 meters.
Kevin at the top of the 'crux'.
The crux in all its glory, and Kevin preparing to down-climb it.
Kevin down-climing the crux. Easy as pie!
What a nice place for someone to put a couch! There's an ottoman for resting one's tired feet on, too! The pillows are a touch hard, though.
The gendarme, from above.
The West summit, from near the top of the North summit.
The South summit from near the top of the North summit.
Barrier Lake.
More of Barrier Lake.
The valley from quite high -- maybe 700 meters.
Is that Sibbald Creek Trail meandering northward?
Kevin and I at the first (North) summit.
Kevin down-climbing from the North summit to attain the ridge.
The view from part way down from the North summit -- the ridge is just around all that rock there...
A look back at the North summit from the ridge.
A look forward, toward the South summit, and a lot of ridge.
Kevin and I at the South summit.
A view of the West summit from the South summit. There is more ridge there, and an interesting-looking scramble coming up!
A look back at the North summit from the South summit.
Kevin and I on the West summit -- we made it!
A look back at the South summit from the West summit.
The North summit from the West summit.
The 'crux' way back at the start, which isn't very cruxy after ascending the West summit block!
Kevin peering down the topmost part of the West summit, on the descent.
The lower part of the West summit block. This is about half of it; you can't see the upper half from here. There's another short bit of ridge up there which seems dodgier than any of the other ridge we'd traversed up to that point.
Kevin wearing his fancy gaiters at the top of the drainage, making a rapid descent!